Saturday, April 21, 2012

Greer Price named State Geologist of New Mexico

Greer Price, who has been serving as Interim Director of the New Mexico Bureau of Geology and Mineral Resources, has accepted the position as State Geologist and Director on a permanent basis.  [That's Greer on the left]

Friday, April 13, 2012

Ceremonies for release of Vermont geologic map

Vermont Governor Peter Shumlin [top, at podium. State Geologist Larry Becker at left] brought the presentation of the New State Bedrock Geologic Map into his Executive Office in the State House on April 11, 2012. Approximately 45 people from the geologic and interested community trooped and squeezed in to hear the presentation with the State House press corps in attendance. He noted that “Every 50 years or so something big happens, this is one of them”.

This is a cooperative map between the Vermont Geological Survey (VGS), USGS and our primary academic partner the University of Vermont. Attached are pictures of the Governor, the lead VGS author, Marjorie Gale [third photo], the State Geologist [second photo] with more of the Governors ornate office, map contributors surrounding the Governor, and audience looking on.

Peter Lyttle in his role as National Geologic Mapping Program Coordinator was there so was Randy Orndorff and the lead USGS author, Nick Ratcliffe. State Geologists Steve Mabee (Mass) and Rick Chormann (NH) were in attendance. [bottom photo, map authors Ratcliffe, Gale, Thompson, and Walsh]

Rep. David Deen a member of the Vermont Statemap Advisory Committee introduced a resolution and brought Survey members to the floor of the House to stand and be recognized.

Resolved: That the Secretary of State be directed to send a copy of this resolution to Secretary of Natural Resources Deborah Markowitz.

VGS link to the Map:

Link to Press Release – Quote from Governor Shumlin, Marcia McNutt Director of the USGS, Laurence Becker Vermont State Geologist and Charlotte Mehrtens, UVM Geology Department

Secretary Markowitz’s remarks in the Governor’s Office

Vermont's New Geologic Bedrock Map

Yesterday ANR presented the governor with a new Geologic Bedrock Map of Vermont. The last bedrock map was created over 60 years ago, before our modern understanding of plate tectonics. The current map took 30 years to complete. Geologists and students walked the state and, using pace and compass, mapped the visible bedrock, took core samples and using this data created a detailed map of Vermont's bedrock. In a statement yesterday at the Statehouse Secretary Markowitz thanked and congratulated the geologists from ANR, the US Geological Survey and the University of Vermont who worked collaboratively to create this new map. She went on to say that

"Our new Geologic illustrates, not just the layers of rocks below our feet, but it tells the story of the history of Vermont, from its earliest contours to the present. The geologic forces that have shaped this landscape have also shaped the lives of the people who have lived here, from the Abenaki through each successive wave of immigrants.

It also guides the contours of our modern economy which is tied to the working forests and farms, mines, ski industry and tourism -- all of which are in turn intimately connected to our state's geology.

It is the foundation of the natural beauty of our state. The varied palette of colors shows how complex our bedrock is and in turn symbolizes the sublime and mysterious world that lives below our feet and in the surrounding hillsides.

It underlies the ecology of our landscape, our forests, streams, farms and meadows, all of which vary according to the underlying geologic formations.

This map also illustrates the state's commitment to the use of science to inform our collective decisions about environmental stewardship with the latest and best information available, and to present that information in a manner that is easily accessible and useful to the broader public

Finally this map is a tribute to the art and poetry inside the souls of our state's dedicated geologists who are closely attuned to the rhythms and vibrations of our landscape as well as to the deep history embedded in the rocks below our feet."

To see this map visit:

To learn about how it was created visit:

About the Map: The Bedrock Geologic Map of Vermont incorporates 30 years of new approaches to geologic mapping and the technologies that support it. As a fundamental data layer, it is a show piece of the present understanding of Vermont geology. The map will be the geoscience base for years to come, helping us to address Vermont's environmental issues and informing our interaction with and protection of our natural resources.

A map is the medium by which geologists communicate data and its interpretation. Mapping at the surface allows geologists to predict what is in the subsurface. Predictive capabilities are important for understanding issues such water supply, contaminant remediation, natural geochemical hazards, and rockfalls.

Map-making process: The new map incorporates field mapping studies at various scales by more than 60 geologists. Mapping was done by pace and compass on a variety of base maps and there was no use of GPS or digital GIS mapping in 1984. Geologists observe the exposed rock types and structures (folds, faults, fractures) in the field, sample the rock for microscopic, chemical, and geochronological studies, then use this information to develop a three dimensional model of the underlying bedrock and to understand the depositional and deformational history of Vermont. Maps were hand drafted in ink on mylar, reproduced on paper, then hand colored. The entire process from field work to map publication is labor intensive. Mapping is still done through walking the land, but now (2011) incorporates the use of Global Positioning Systems (GPS) and Geographic Information Systems

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

New Geologic Map of Vermont Unveiled

Gov., USGS, Vermont Geological Survey and University of Vermont roll-out details

MONTPELIER, Vt. – A new bedrock geologic map of the state was unveiled in a ceremony at the Vermont State House today, bringing a critical tool to land managers involved in natural resource planning and environmental assessment.

The event, hosted by Gov. Peter Shumlin, included the Secretary of the Agency of Natural Resources Deb Markowitz; Peter Lyttle of the U.S. Geological Survey; Laurence Becker, Vermont Agency of Natural Resources; and Char Mehrtens of the University of Vermont. These three organizations were the main collaborators to produce this updated, highly detailed map. The state’s last map of this kind was produced in 1961, with the first geologic map of the state being produced 150 years ago.

“Through the balanced work of all the partners, Vermonters now have a comprehensive map that will help us better understand and plan for issues like groundwater, energy, hazards, infrastructure development, and environmental protection for years to come,” Gov. Shumlin said. “Such up to date information is crucial to the State when addressing the economic and environmental concerns of citizens, lawmakers, government, business, and local communities.”

Geologic maps enable resource managers and land management agencies to identify and protect aquifers, evaluate resources and land use, and prepare for natural hazards, such as earthquakes and land subsidence, for example. Geologic maps are also critical tools for choosing safe sites for solid and hazardous waste disposal and for protecting sensitive ecosystems.

Understanding where different rock types are located provides important clues about where groundwater and mineral resources exist. The map provides a template for future studies in a variety of disciplines -- not only geologic, tectonic and hydrologic studies, but also economic and environmental evaluations.

"It was an incredible tour de force to bring this level of detail to the new bedrock map on account of the many intense geologic events that have left their mark on the state of Vermont over the eons," said USGS Director Marcia McNutt from the bureau’s headquarters in Reston, Va. "Without the steadfast and enduring partnership of the USGS, the Vermont Geological Survey, and the University of Vermont, this achievement would not have been possible."

Vermont’s new map shows an uncommon level of detail for state geologic maps. Mapped rock units are based on lithology, or rock type, rather than traditional rock formations that may include multiple rock types. This map identifies more than 486 different types of rock throughout the state of Vermont, a design feature intended to facilitate use by multiple disciplines. During the project, scientists also discovered many fault lines, advancing understanding about how and where water travels through the underground rock formations and providing clues about where underground aquifers -- an important source for potable fresh water -- may be located.

“The Vermont map is the visual presentation used to communicate data, ideas and interpretations. New map patterns developed through years of field and laboratory studies led to recognition of terranes from different geologic settings. Most importantly, understanding these settings gives us predictive capabilities for the sub-surface including areas where rocks are covered by glacial deposits,” said Laurence Becker, the 13th Vermont State Geologist. “The bedrock geology, in conjunction with the overlying glacial deposits, form the geologic system crucial to understanding economic and environmental issues that face our state”

Vermont’s new geologic map substantially builds upon the state’s previous geologic map – created in 1961– by incorporating the theory of plate tectonics, which had not yet been developed 50 years ago. The Green Mountains form the backbone of Vermont. Their geologic history, spanning more than 1.4 billion years, attests to a complex series of plate tectonic events including the formation of corals reefs, ocean basins and volcanic arcs punctuated by periods of Appalachian mountain building.

"The new bedrock geologic map of Vermont changes the way we look at the geologic history of the state because we can now see relationships between rock types and structures that were obscured on the old map,” said Char Mehrtens, contributing author of the map and professor of Geology at UVM. “The level of detail provided by the new map is also a huge help to geoscience educators because we can now design student projects to utilize the three dimensional information it contains. The significance of this map can't be understated; it places us in the national conversation about the origin and evolution of mountain belts, particularly because the National Science Foundation-funded Earth Scope project will be working in New England starting in 2013. The new bedrock map sets the stage for collaborative studies of University of Vermont geologists with their national and international colleagues."

The process for creating a geologic map for an entire state is very field intensive, and The Bedrock Geologic Map of Vermont has been in development since the 1980s. The authors who originated this project and brought it to fruition include Nicholas M. Ratcliffe, USGS; Rolfe S. Stanley*, UVM; Marjorie H. Gale, VGS; Peter J. Thompson, VGS; and Gregory J. Walsh, USGS.

Other contributors included Norman L. Hatch, Jr.*, USGS; Douglas W. Rankin, USGS; Barry L. Doolan, UVM; Jonathan Kim, VGS; Charlotte J. Mehrtens, UVM; John N. Aleinikoff, USGS; and J. Gregory McHone, Wesleyan University. Linda M. Masonic, USGS, was responsible for the cartography.

The Bedrock Geologic Map of Vermont covers 246 7.5-minute quadrangles at a scale of 1:100,000 where one inch equals about 1.6 miles. The map consists of three oversize sheets (52 x 76 inches), and displays the state’s geology in an 8.5-foot tall map. Printed copies of the map will be available for sale by the USGS and by the Vermont Geological Survey. The map is also available online and in a variety of formats through the USGS at and the VGS at

* Deceased

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

New Bedrock Geologic Map of Vermont

Vermont Public Radio offers a podcast report on release of the new Bedrock Geologic Map of Vermont by the Vermont Geological Survey and the USGS:

Since Vermont's last Bedrock Geologic Map was completed over 50 years ago, there have been new interpretations of geologic history, like plate tectonics theory. That theory was accepted in the mid-1960s. There have also been advancements in the science of geologic mapping and technology. A new map will be released this week by the Vermont Geological Survey. It will incorporate these new elements and will help address some of Vermont's environmental issues and the protection of our natural resources.

Geologists Marjie Gale and Nick Ratcliffe discuss how the map was created over a span of three decades, what it tells us about the state's bedrock geology and how the map can be utilized.

Reference: Ratcliffe, N.M., Stanley, R.S, Gale, M.H., Thompson, P.J., and Walsh, G.J., 2011, Bedrock Geologic Map of Vermont: U.S. Geological Survey Scientific Investigations Map 3184, 3 sheets, scale 1:100,000.

Saturday, April 07, 2012

State Geological Surveys in the news

Time magazine's cover story on "The Truth about Oil" includes a quote from Scott Tinker.

The Arkansas Geological Survey is featured prominently in the March 23 issue of Science, in the story on "Learning How to NOT Make Your Own Earthquakes."

The Kentucky Geological Survey is showcased in the Spring 2012 issue of Esri's ArcUser magazine, in an article titled, "Responsiveness and Reliability: Kentucky Geological Survey benefits from ArcGIS for Server."

There's a feature article in the same issue about mapping by the Illinois State Geological Survey, titled, "Modeling the Terrain Below:
Creating dynamic subsurface perspectives in ArcScene

Alaska Survey recruiting Energy Program Manager

Tired of sitting in front of the computer, correlating logs, and dreaming about outcrop?

The wait is over!

The Alaska State Geologic Survey (Alaska Division of Geology & Geophysical Surveys) has a position opening that they hope will be very attractive to someone that wants a field-research based management position in the geology ‘candy store’ of Alaska.

They are currently recruiting for a Geologist V to manage and lead the Energy Program here at the Alaska State Geologic Survey in beautiful warm Fairbanks. [Right, DGGS geologist Jennifer Athey. Credit, DGGS]

This is a demanding position, that will involve significant geologic field work in remote Alaska, supervision of up to 5 geologists, and setting the priorities of our Energy program.

Please forward this information to your contacts, and please be liberal with your email list. DGGS is performing a national search and is looking for a candidate that wants to make a difference in the understanding of Alaska’s complex sedimentary basins.

You can access the position details here Geologist V